drift·​ing ˈdrif-tiŋ How to pronounce drifting (audio)
: the act or activity of steering an automobile so that it makes a controlled skid sideways through a turn with the front wheels pointed in a direction opposite to that of the turn
Drifting began in the early 1980s with a Japanese race-car driver named Keiichi Tsuchiya. Mr. Tsuchiya, who was in his 20s, started experimenting with drifting and practiced it on curvy roads deep in the mountains near his hometown. He says he was perfecting his ability to not spin out on curves in car races.Norihiko Shirouzu et al.
also : a sport in which drivers compete at this activity
Drifting has nothing to do with racing. There's no checkered flag. It's more like figure skating than speed skating, with a three-judge panel awarding points based on speed, angle of attack and style. They take points away for going off course, stalling or running into course markers—including walls. And for driving straight: The goal is to control the car as it slides sideways around turns, as if on ice, at full throttle. W. J. Hennigan

Examples of drifting in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Across the United States, schools that specialize in performance driving offer courses that include instruction in open-wheel race cars, rally competition, winter drifting, evasive driving maneuvers, and even four-wheel-drive rock crawling. Michael Van Runkle, Robb Report, 3 Apr. 2024 The sheer disorientation is perhaps an achievement in itself, but my continual drifting (sorry) from the imagery didn’t help to unlock any special insight. Miles Klee, Rolling Stone, 9 Feb. 2024 The movement appears to be a natural occurrence, and researchers haven’t found a specific inciting event that started the drifting. Will Sullivan, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Nov. 2023 Besides music, the festival will also include a full slate of immersive automotive lifestyle events, a consumer marketplace, world-class drifting, motorsports competitions and freestyle motocross. Dave Brooks, Billboard, 20 Oct. 2023 Mao, the Chinese spokesperson, said the drifting of the balloon into U.S. airspace was an accident. Bryan Pietsch and Meaghan Tobin, Anchorage Daily News, 21 June 2023 Significant blowing and drifting will be occurring. Joel Shannon, USA TODAY, 24 Dec. 2022 Previous research suggested this emergence began roughly 2.5 billion years ago and was driven by plate tectonics -- the drifting, crashing and diving of the giant plates of rock that now make up Earth's surface. Charles Q. Choi, Discover Magazine, 26 Nov. 2021 Instead, the runway star alluded to a gradual drifting apart. Nardine Saad, Los Angeles Times, 22 Mar. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'drifting.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1998, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of drifting was in 1998

Dictionary Entries Near drifting

Cite this Entry

“Drifting.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/drifting. Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

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